Home / ANALYSIS / Gulf formwork suppliers have adapted to succeed

Gulf formwork suppliers have adapted to succeed

by Oscar Rousseau on Jun 22, 2018

Formwork specialists have adapted admirably to challenges and tough trading conditions in the GCC.
Formwork specialists have adapted admirably to challenges and tough trading conditions in the GCC.

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Formwork is certainly not the most high-profile segment of the Gulf’s construction sector, but it continues to play a pivotal role in the development of the region’s built world.

From skyscrapers and air traffic control towers, to residential buildings, bridges, elevator shafts, malls, and villas, formwork professionals have had a hand in more projects in the GCC than many may actually realise.

As is the case in other segments of the market, however, competition is rising, and a host of challenges are mounting for contractors and sub-contractors. Formwork specialists are not immune to this, and late last year they were reportedly picking up projects with smaller profit margins due to a combination of fierce competition and myriad market challenges.

With companies warming to the idea of accepting smaller contracts, businesses have had to find new ways of working in order to become cost efficient; if they are taking on these contracts, they need to ensure that their revenue and profit are not adversely affected by work that may deliver a lower monetary return. 

Towards the end of 2017, at a Construction Week roundtable event, the business development manager for the Middle East region at MFE Formwork Technology, Steven Magowan Robinson, said companies were exploring how to trim their cost base to adapt to new market conditions.

ROUNDTABLE: Experts discuss the Middle East’s formwork sector

“Contractors are trying to cut their overheads so that they can price to win projects,” he said. “As such, we are trying to help them to reduce their outgoings so that they can [succeed] and, in turn, give us work. This means working in a more consultative capacity than we have in the past,” he added.

“The sales focus has changed from quality and speed to reusability and long-term returns on investment. That seems to be where [market requirements] have migrated to over the last couple of years.”

While there is a focus on long-term returns as formwork experts adapt to win projects of smaller scale, Dubai, for example, is still home to many projects that will need formwork. Expo 2020 Dubai is an obvious candidate on the megaproject end of the scale.

Another project with great formwork potential is Jumeirah Gate, which Australian contractor Multiplex is developing in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residences neighbourhood. The mixed-use, 77-storey twin-tower development features a 183-key five-star Address Hotel, 443 branded apartments operated by the Address  brand, and 478 residential apartments. The development occupies a plot spanning 20,000m2, plus an additional area of 10,000m2 of leased land for landscaping.

Work is progressing on the towers, and German Formwork Technology (GFT) is one of the companies involved with the project. Pictures on the firm’s website show several feet of formwork systems that have been fitted to wooden girders and erected on the development’s site.